Originally written for The Stage.
If there’s one thing that defines Told by an Idiot, it is collaboration. “I still hold with the notion that theatre is the most collaborative of art forms,” says Paul Hunter, the company’s co-founder and artistic director. “I think theatre’s at its best when it properly collaborates, so that’s always the starting point for us: the idea of collaboration.”
Collaboration, though, has meant many different things over the company’s 22-year life. It began with a focus on the actor, moving on to work with poets such as Carol Ann Duffy and Simon Armitage and writers such as Carl Grose. The 2004 production I’m a Fool to Want You enlisted jazz musicians to capture episodes from the life of French writer Boris Vian, while in 2013 it forged an actor collaboration of a different kind with Edward Petherbridge on My Perfect Mind, a show inspired by Petherbridge’s stroke.
Hayley Carmichael, another of Told by an Idiot’s founders, insists that the shows – while different – all share the same philosophy at heart.
“Even if the starting point is brought to the room by one of us, what happens next is that everyone in the room is a collaborator and takes part in the collaborative process, which for us will always make the end result richer.”
Photo: Manuel Harlan.